BusinessCompany NewsEU competition commissioner fights back

EU competition commissioner fights back

Eelie Kroes, the European Union commissioner-designate for competition has vigorously defended herself at the European Parliament against allegations of divided loyalties.

Link: MEPs to grill key EU commissioners

Kroes, whose job is seen as the Commission’s second most important job after president, endured a three hour grilling from cross-party tormentors who included whistle blower, Paul van Buitenen.

He and his colleagues questioned her suitability as an impartial regulator, because of her widespread previous business interests.

But the former Netherlands transport minister rounded on van Buitenen who had earlier claimed in the press that there were eighteen matters causing anxiety about Kroes’ career, though he failed to specify in any detail what they were.

‘These are just allegations, that’s all. You don’t have any hard facts and you are trying to turn round the burden of proof. What you’re saying is both unworthy and nonsensical,’ she said to scattered applause among the committee members.

‘I don’t want to negotiate on integrity,’ she added. ‘I’ve never had a Swiss bank account’, referring to one of the van Buitenen’s allegations.

The 63-year old ex-Minister and research economist at Erasmus University admitted she had made past mistakes but she had learned more from them than from her successes.

She indicated that the major competition policy lines laid down by Mario Monti would be continued under her stewardship.

In particular Kroes said she would focus on competition problems, which often afflict smaller businesses and said she would be more responsive than the Commission has been with questions affecting services such as energy, waste management and postal authorities.

She also promised that in future competition policy issues would be more fully explained to the public than they have been so far. ‘After all, this is ultimately all about the consumer,’ she said.

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